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Effective Navigation Examples in Mobile App Design

Navigation forms a crucial aspect of any mobile application, and as such, it is vital that it’s implemented effectively in order to form an effective user experience.

Even apps such as YouTube have shown just how hard it can be to execute navigation perfectly, as they have continuously attempted different approaches with their Android app.

With that being said, below we are going to look at some examples of highly effective navigation in mobile app design.

Instagram

While not typically seen on Android apps, Instagram implements a tab bar at the bottom of the screen as opposed to the top, providing a cohesive cross-platform user experience with its iOS app. This also makes the key actions all within better reach of the user’s hand and allows them to access them without covering up any content.

Where Instagram comes into its own is with its tab header. This ingenious solution allows for a swipe right or left to navigate the camera and send screens without compromising on spacing or the visual design language.

All screens are readily available and can be accessed in a single tap, unlike with hamburger implementations. The clear iconography allows for the removal of any tab labels, and the number of navigation icons is kept down to a minimum to avoid overwhelming the user.

Messenger

Messenger is another app which implements the tab navigation approach. This time the positioning is constrained to the header – a more typical Android implementation – and allows the bottom section to be kept clear for primary actions which in this case is the plus icon. The icons are clear, easy-to-understand, and again allow for the removal of labels resulting in a more refined and uncluttered visual experience.

Messenger uses bottom borders to provide visual feedback for active tabs. While this is more typically associated with Android, iOS tends to use color and/or icon fills to feedback on these states.

Many apps which contain tab bars will often also include a hamburger icon on Android in order to access less often used items. The iOS equivalent is to add a ‘More’ tab. Facebook has managed to avoid this with Messenger and has refined the user experience and ease of navigation in the process.

From a visual standpoint, Messenger’s navigation is also very attractive, making use of brand colors, depth elements, and avoiding the display of titles throughout.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is one of the finest examples of a simple navigation system. It has succeeded in reducing the number of tabs down to just three: Home, Search/Discover, and User. As such, the result is an app which is incredibly easy to understand and navigate. Where it could potentially have had up to five or more tabs, it has managed to merge a number of these.

Another neat feature is how the play tab is hidden until you begin to play music. At this point, it subtlely appears to the right of the user icon and uses delightful animation to both alert the user it has been added, as well as to give feedback on whether music is currently playing or paused.

The navigation uses opacity to highlight active and inactive states and applies an orange top border to carry through aspects of the SoundCloud branding to the app. The icons are large, clear, and well spaced, resulting in a finely executed example of mobile navigation.

Finished

More and more apps realize the importance of navigation and the positive impact it can have on user experience. In Android, we see a shift away from the hamburger navigation to a sole tab bar. On iOS, more and more apps are removing tiny tab bar labels in place of large and clear iconography.

Through 2017, this looks set to continue and develop as designers seek to simplify app designs and improve user experience.

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Get Rich Quick: Decorating With Jewel Tones

While we still love a neutral color palette and subtle accents, the design world is going crazy over rich jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, and fuchsia.

Jewel tones are most often used as accents to a neutral color palette in the form of an accent wall, a few throw pillows on the couch, or a brightly colored picture frame.

In 2017, though, jewel tones are being elevated to the lead design role, playing the part of main color and shimmering accent in sparkling tones and luxe textures. Here’s what you need to know about using one of this year’s must-have trends.

What are some popular jewel tones?

Saturated color is key. When decorating or designing with jewel tones, think about deep, contrasting colors, like emerald or ruby. These colors are bright yet rich, adding moodiness and vibrancy all at once.

Photo courtesy Michelle Workman

Other jewel tones convey a brighter, livelier style, like fuchsia or sapphire. These hues offer a more youthful take on the classic jewel tone, and would be used more sparingly throughout a space.

Where do jewel tones work best?

Anywhere! When chartreuse green is paired with a classic black-and-white palette, a living room can suddenly become both playful and elegant, perfect for the growing family or as a space for entertaining.

Photo courtesy Ulinkly Window Treatment

A den or study that dons dark woodwork and metallic tones can transform to a bolder, even more masculine room when a vibrant tone like ruby red is introduced.

And a fresh coat of turquoise can easily be combined with shades of yellow or interesting woodwork to brighten a smaller space, like a powder room or office nook.

Entryways can also benefit from jewel tones – make a statement in a traditional entry with a splash of vibrant pink for a feminine yet fresh look.

How do you add jewel tones without going all in?

The easiest way to incorporate jewel tones in your home’s design is via subtle accents, like artwork or smaller pieces of furniture. By incorporating jewel tones into furnishings, like a velvet sofa or tufted ottoman, a room is instantly infused with dimension and livability.

Photo from Zillow listing

Which jewel tones are trending?

It’s easy to pick out the most popular jewel tones – you can look in your own jewel box and see hues of emerald green, ruby red, sapphire blue, aquamarine, and vibrant pinks and fuchsias.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Workman

Vibrant hues will be popping up everywhere in the next year, bringing life and richness to homes in all categories – traditional, modern, eclectic, you name it. How would you add jewel tones to your own space?

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Is Google’s AMP Good for the Web?

If you’ve ever encountered an article using AMP via Google search – you know they aren’t kidding about speed. (You can also view this article in AMP format).

The combination of asynchronous JavaScript, static resources, cache, inline CSS and other tweaks ensure that pages load super fast.

But, one year into the project, not all publishers are sold on the current realities of AMP. A good summary of AMP’s shortcomings was recently published by developer Kyle Schreiber.

Schreiber astutely points out the issues of sharing pages due to AMP’s URL structure (which Google has taken steps to fix), articles being broken, being locked into Google’s ecosystem, along with possible privacy and security ramifications.

To be fair, AMP does have its fair share of big publishers who have benefitted from it. They’ve seen traffic and speed increases which certainly show the high ceiling of potential for the project.

Pushing (and Dragging) the Web Forward

Over the years, Google has been a company looking to change the web for the better:

  • Google Fonts helped to usher in an era of better web typography.
  • Chrome 56 started warning users of unsecure sites to encourage wider adoption of SSL.
  • Google Search has penalized sites for using black-hat SEO tactics and other transgressions.

Coupled with the ever-evolving search algorithms, Google routinely changes the direction of the web. AMP is merely another step forward in this process. While their actions are in many ways altruistic, one does wonder if this single entity has a little too much sway.

When we all feel compelled to change what we are doing to please Google, it all seems a bit like friendly coercion. Don’t get me wrong – Google offers some outstanding services. And, in return, they ask us to provide them with some valuable data. It’s a tradeoff most of us are willing to make.

But AMP seems to be taking things to an even higher level.

Reasons to Get AMP’d Up

Despite any concerns about a Google-opoly, there are some solid reasons why you’d want to give AMP a try:

  • It’s fairly easy to implement (including lots of WordPress Plugins to streamline the process).
  • Using AMP can get your site in Google’s News Carousel, though it’s been previously reported that it won’t otherwise affect SEO.
  • Readers will love AMP’s speed, simplicity and lower mobile data usage.

AMP really does take advantage of Google’s massive computing capabilities to take some otherwise complicated sites and simplify them. That in itself is worth celebrating.

And the fact that some large publishers have joined in the parade seems to indicate that this technology is going to continue to be refined over the long haul. So, whatever problems there are currently will (hopefully) get ironed out as AMP evolves.

Time Will Tell

Here and now, it seems difficult to brand AMP as either a success or failure. The idea of AMP is outstanding. The implementation, so far, has been less than perfect.

I do wonder what, if any, incentives smaller publishers have for going all-in with AMP. There’s no revenue sharing, and Google allows only certain types of ads to run on optimized pages. Smaller sites that depend on ad revenue for survival could be hurt.

Regardless of the shortcomings, in some ways it all seems a bit inevitable. Google’s hold over the web means that, at some point, you’re either going to get with their program or be left behind.

As free and open as we’d like to believe the web is, maybe there’s more of an authoritarian streak taking hold. Even if it’s with benevolence, being told what to do and where to be, goes against the grain of the web.

On the bright side, AMP is a large-scale, long-term type of project. So it’s to be expected that issues and concerns are out there. The real test is going to be how Google responds.

If they are willing and able to listen to online publishers both big and small, there is still hope that AMP will become beneficial for everyone involved.

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Winter Weatherproofing Ideas That Take Just Minutes

According to the Punxsutawney Phil, winter is sticking around for a while this year. It’s not too late to seal up your house from the cold and save money on your heating bill. These fixes are quick and easy to install, and they’ll help your home stay cozy and warm for the duration.

Insulating windows and doors

Weather stripping for windows and doors is available in many colors and types. It is simple to install and easy to remove.

Use a transparent weather-sealant tape for areas where the stripping will be applied directly to windows and glass doors, because it is not easily noticed.

A bonus use for this type of tape: You can temporarily seal cracks in windows to keep out the elements and prevent further cracking until you can make the permanent repair. Just apply the tape to the drafty areas, and you can easily remove it when you no longer need it.

Door sweep

The space under your exterior doors is a big entry point for cold air. Door sweeps are easy to install directly to your doors. Apply them to the bottom of the door with nails, or use the door sweeps with an adhesive for a no-tools-needed installation.

Reflective insulation

Attics and crawl spaces are notoriously cold areas of your home. While traditional insulation can be time-consuming and expensive to install, reflective insulation is fiber-free and super easy to staple to any surface you want to insulate.

It costs less than $20 a roll, and you can use it to creatively insulate a variety of spaces. You can also use it to keep Fido’s doghouse warm or to insulate an RV, a chicken coop, or just about any small space.

Garage door

Unless your garage is insulated, it is probably a chilly space. An easy way to keep some of the cold air out is to install a weather-sealing strip to the bottom of your garage door. These can generally be installed in a matter of minutes.

These strips offer an added advantage: They keep out rain and pests.

Outlets and switches

Believe it or not, outlets and switches on your exterior walls are a cold-air culprit. Foam outlet and switch sealers cost very little, and can be installed in minutes.

Just turn off the power, remove the outlet or switch cover, apply the foam sealers, and reinstall the cover.

Decor updates

Curtains and rugs can have a big impact on warming up your home. For example, if you hang some nice, heavy curtains over drafty windows, you’ll notice an immediate improvement in the temperature of your space.

Likewise, adding some area rugs over hardwood floors will warm up a room. Putting rugs in bathrooms with tile floors really helps when the house is chilly, especially for middle-of-the-night bathroom visits.

Sometimes it’s the quick and simple updates that make a big difference. You can do all six updates above in an afternoon – or any one of them in under an hour. You will not only make your home more comfortable for the remainder of the cold season, but also save money and do your part for energy conservation.

You can do this!

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10 Tips to Boost the Efficiency of Your In-House Design Team

An in-house design team can save up to 40% of your costs if managed effectively. Their work defines your brand and values in front of your customers. For a good design team, efficiency is important from several points of views. It brings better results, makes your work environment better and removes a lot of stress.

I’ve had the chance to try out many different things, some yielded great results while some failed miserably. Things that did work reflected itself in different ways. I’ve noticed that the team became more adaptive of a collaborative style of work with a better communication flow. This has been instrumental in reducing missed or delayed deadlines, better quality of work, openness for brainstorming and increased customer satisfaction.

But enough of my ramblings. Here are some tips that will helped improve the efficiency of your in-house design team:

Get the Creativity Flowing

Once a brief or a requirement is clearly defined and set in front of the team, organize a brainstorming session to come up with several ideas before they start working on developing them. In the beginning, you shouldn’t shy away from your role as captain. To keep your crew on the right course, steer a few brainstorming sessions each time a new task comes up.

Brainstorming sessions are important since they highlight a variety of different ideas and thoughts that could translate to good high-quality deliverables. In the case of designer’s block within the team, give them ample time to get back with great ideas. Keep them motivated and there’s a higher chance of increasing their creative output.

Get Them the Right Tools, Set Best Practices

You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.” – Steve Jobs

Providing your team with the right tools is the best investment you can do. These tools are required to effectively convert your in-house design team’s ideas into executable designs, and also help save time. Tools must be employed for communication, project management, graphic editing, code editing, etc.

Some of the great design tools are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Invision, Sketch.app, etc. For DAM (Digital Asset Management) and storage, Dropbox works well. Communication, collaboration and project management are imperative to successful and on-time completion of projects and deliverables. There are several good tools on the market for project management. However, good project planning plays an equally important role.

Setting up best practices for the team can be equally important. Things like standardized file naming conventions, appropriate storage spaces, following a templatized way of accepting new briefs, etc. go a long way in ensuring a consistent work pattern. This can considerably improve the workflow when you have multiple designers working on the same project. It also helps newcomers to get familiar with the project faster and maybe the most important thing of all, it makes transferring a part of the work to someone else way easier.

You can also establish a process for saving or archiving ideas or designs that may not have worked out. They may turn out to be useful at a later point. Circulate a best practices document within the design team so that all members can get familiar with it. This document will also be handy while onboarding new members into the team.

Autonomy and Trust Is Good for Productivity and Creativity

Autonomy and trust go a long way in building a healthy team culture. Design is primarily an art and everyone has their own ideas and solutions. However, the basic design principles and processes largely remain the same. Give your designers the autonomy to work so that they can be more creative.

Trust your designers, their experience, and their outlook. You surely have better things to do than to stand on someone’s head while they work. Most designers grasp the requirements or briefs very clearly and can provide a fantastic output if they can work in the right environment.

A Design Brief Is the Most Important Piece of the Puzzle

You can choose to follow a template for design briefs so that the designers have an exhaustive set of information to work with. Fields like output file type, size specifications, type of media are some or the basics that can be added to the template. Adding more information like when is the creative being used, the purpose or the goal of the creative, the channel it is being used on, the type of audience that may be engaging with it, etc. will provide sufficient information for the designers to come up with interesting designs. A design brief can also be visual at times.

If there are some specific comments, then convey them well in advance to the team so that they have ample time to work towards it. To avoid multiple iterations, a design brief should be studied thoroughly by the designers before they start working. If need be, set up a quick meeting between the concerned parties or departments and the design team to clarify any questions.

Meetings where designers’ opinions are valued and taken in high regards serve as a big morale boost for the team and designers start feeling more valued. Also, in case of a meeting, designers are more likely to understand the requirements better and stay within timelines, delivering well in time.

The best part about an in-house design team is that they will have a great understanding of your brand values, tone and message. Since they exclusively work for one business, the brief that you need to provide to your in-house team may be less elaborate that the one you need to provide to an agency, saving you time and energy.

Timelines Are Important, However Never Rush

Set expectations right from the beginning. A creative team should never be rushed, however, it should be emphasized about delivering on time. Most design teams run the risk of shooting deadlines since they handle multiple projects at one time.

Every project should have a deadline and a clear set of milestones. That will help designers know of the urgency of different projects and they will be able to prioritize and create their pipeline of work accordingly.

If you notice the trend of some tasks consistently taking longer to finish than approximated, take appropriate action. That is the only way to ensure a fair division of work. Delegation and optimal resource utilization form important aspects of effective project management for design.

Don’t forget to keep contingencies for unexpected leave and downtime within the team. Always keep deadlines that allow for a fair amount of review before the deliverables are to be submitted.

Change of Settings to Keep Designers Motivated

Being outdoors or in a different location other than your office can provide a much-needed change in the environment. It can also act as an inspiration at times. Other than building team camaraderie and bonding, a change in setting can also help when designers are suffering from ‘designer’s block’.

Setting up outdoor meetings can be a great way to foster creativity. Check to see if your designers are taking regular breaks. Working continuously can dull the pace and demotivate almost anyone, designers are no exception.

Reduce Unnecessary Team Meetings

Meetings are a necessary evil. You can’t work without them, and you can’t work with them. More than $37billion a year is wasted on unproductive meetings. Many meetings are unavoidable and are required to carry out the work smoothly. However, when a team starts scheduling meetings for everything, productivity goes down the drain.

Moreover, designers aren’t particularly fond of meetings. Read this article to understand their perspective.

Assign for Each Designer’s Strengths

Designers have their strengths and weaknesses. Some may be good at video, others infographics, web design, photography, illustration, animation, banner ads, etc. Some designers may have a great attention to detail and could do well for reviewing or the QC process.

Assigning work as per their core expertize reduces the effort needed for completion of a task. However, always bear in mind that work allocation should be done equally.

Communication is Important: Schedule Regular Feedback Sessions to Check for Any Bottlenecks

Most design teams are composed of millennials. This PwC report highlights that 51% of millennials prefer continuous feedback sessions. Schedule regular feedback sessions with your design team to check for any issues they are facing. A 360-degree feedback works well. Valuing open communication within the team generates a great team culture.

Try to avoid negative feedback and put it across as constructively as possible. An HBR survey revealed that 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion that “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.” And most respondents felt that they wished to receive regular sessions of “corrective (or constructive) feedback.”

You must also have appreciation and awards sessions for highlighting achievements. You’d be surprised how well your in-house design team could respond after these. They will also give a sense of ownership.

Be Cautious of Multiple Iterations

As happens with most design assignments, there are continuous iterations that may go on in a loop until you get a satisfying output. This can happen because of changing briefs or requirements, new additions to work, not satisfying the expected output, etc. A thorough review process can aid in minimizing these roadblocks.

Be mindful that you must keep time aside for these revisions. At times, though unavoidable, they do tend to bring down the morale of your team. That is just one more reason why it is important to remind them about the good work they are doing, when the credit is due.

Designing is a dynamic art with various uncertainties like working with tight deadlines, changing briefs, multiple iterations, differing perspectives etc. Hence, there is a lot of pressure on designers to perform beyond expectations. It becomes imperative to keep them motivated and efficient at all times. With an in-house design team, you have the benefits of reducing costs, brand loyalty and reduced turnaround time. Therefore, keeping your in-house design team happy is vital.

Adopt a management style that supports working with a young and lively team of designers. Show them opportunities to develop themselves professionally and hold regular feedback sessions for an open communication within the team. Most importantly, highlighting good performances will keep up the tempo within the team.

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See the Most Expensive Home for Sale in Every State

As spring fever creeps in, you might begin to feel a bit restless in your current home. While you wait for the weather to warm, these pricey listings should help fuel your budget-free daydreams.

We pulled the most expensive single-family home listing on Zillow in each state. While we left off the working ranches, empty parcels and properties that are also a primary place of business, there is no shortage of amazing amenities on this list.

Alabama

16801 Scenic Hwy #89, Fairhope, AL
For sale: $8.9 million

This Alabama home has all the makings of a classic Southern home: a wraparound porch, charming antebellum architecture, and over 6,000 square feet of space for hosting gatherings.

Alaska

74200 Alaskan Oceanside Paradise, Anchor Point, AK
For sale: $3.9 million

alaska

This beachfront home sits atop a historic gold mine site and is designed to allow light to flood the 4,322-square-foot residence from all sides.

Arizona

8055 N Mummy Mountain Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 
For sale: $19.995 million

arizona

Located on 5 acres in Paradise Valley, this Mediterranean estate includes a private theater with tiered seating, a tennis court and a detached guesthouse.

Arkansas

9221 Moody Rd, Fort Smith, AR
For sale: $10.9 million

arkansas

Impressive and elegant would be the best words to describe this breathtaking 18,000-square-foot home in Arkansas. The inside boasts marble staircases, Italian mantles and a kids’ playroom complete with a redwood treehouse.

California

924 Bel Air Rd, Los Angeles, CA
For sale: $250 million

This luxury masterpiece is currently the most expensive home on the U.S. market with a price tag of $250 million. The mansion comes with a fleet of exotic cars, seven staff members, 17,000 square feet of entertainment decks and an 85-foot infinity pool.

Colorado

125 Rooney Cir, Aspen, CO
For sale: $80 million

colorado

Billionaire Bill Koch has listed this 82-acre Aspen estate for sale. In addition to picturesque views, the cabin-inspired rustic home offers 25 bedrooms, a full-size indoor basketball court and proximity to downtown Aspen.

Connecticut

Great Island Rd, Darien, CT
For sale: $175 million

connecticut

This serene waterfront island estate contains a 13,000-square-foot Italian stone manor with sweeping views of Long Island sound, its own beach house and a polo field.

Delaware

27 Hall Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
For sale: $5.75 million

delaware

Unbeatable beachfront views, vaulted ceilings and a gourmet kitchen make this Delaware home a steal.

Florida

1071 N Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL
For sale: $69.9 million

This 35,000-square-foot sunny Florida estate comes with 242 feet of direct ocean frontage, stunning white marble floors and large windows throughout for enjoying the panoramic ocean views.

Georgia

Undisclosed Address
For sale: $48 million

georgia

This exquisite Southern estate features stone terraces, gardens, and two private driveways – and it’s being offered completely furnished.

Hawaii

5418 Weke Rd, Hanalei, HI
For sale: $35 million

This Hanalei Bay home sits right on the ocean with a 5-bed, 5-bath main residence and a 1-bed, 1-bath suite with its own entrance. The kitchen boasts Subzero appliances, Carrara marble countertops, and custom-designed light fixtures.

Idaho

125 Sheep Meadow Ln, Ketchum, ID
For sale: $20 million

The exterior of this home boasts a classic stone interior that fits its woodsy surroundings, while the interior features vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the view. With 8 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and over 15,000 square feet of living space, this home provides plenty of space to host visitors.

Illinois

1932 N Burling St, Chicago, IL
For sale: $50 million

Located in one of Chicago’s most popular urban neighborhoods, this city estate still ensures the privacy and tranquility of a more rural home. In addition to 25,000 square feet of indoor space, the estate grounds boast multiple serene fountains, a reflection pool and a garden pavilion to make you forget that you’re just minutes from downtown.

Indiana

5501 W Hamilton Rd S, Fort Wayne, IN
For sale: $30 million

indiana

Ready to ride? This Midwest property includes a state-of-the-art equestrian facility, plus ponds, walking bridges and a castle-like main residence.

Iowa

16216 Ia-86, Spirit Lake, IA
For sale: $10.9 million

iowa

Despite having garage space for 10 cars, this futuristic-looking home might be better suited to parking a spaceship. The 2.55-acre property offers 24,000 square feet of living space, featuring a theater room, a private Irish pub called “Kevin O’Sullivans” and a chef’s kitchen.

Kansas

6544 Wenonga Cir, Mission Hills, KS 66208
For sale: $10.395 million

kansas

This Georgian-style mansion features beautiful grounds, hand-plastered Venetian walls, imported European floors and an infinity pool.

Kentucky

5802 River Rd, Prospect, KY
For sale: $16 million

kentucky

If you’re worried about finding a place to stay during the Kentucky Derby, snag this home. Located just minutes from Churchill Downs, this 158-acre estate includes a 24-stall barn and 30,000-square-foot outdoor arena.

Louisiana

3608 W Prien Lake Rd, Lake Charles, LA
For sale: $6.2 million

louisana

Equipped with water views of Lake Prien, multiple balconies, and commercial-grade kitchen appliances, this home has it all.

Maine

144 Frazier Pasture Rd, Ogunquit, ME
For sale: $12.6 million

maine

Only built in 2014, this 10,846-square-foot Cape Cod style mansion contains Calacatta marble counters, a saltwater pool, panoramic ocean views and geothermal heating.

Maryland

5517 Pembroke Rd, Bethesda, MD
For sale: $18 million

maryland

This phenomenal 20,263-square-foot Maryland property has been carefully crafted with thought to every feature, from the numerous different chandeliers to the gorgeously manicured gardens surrounding the backyard pool.

Massachusetts

150 Woodland Rd, Chestnut Hill, MA
For sale: $90 million

massachusettsJust five miles from Boston, this home looks more like it belongs in the English countryside. The long private driveway leads to a majestic 26,623-square-foot residence that sits on 14 acres of rolling lawns, ponds and meandering pathways.

Michigan

10034/9875 Anglers Cv, Charlevoix, MI
For sale: $12.9 million

This stunning estate will make it easy to take in all that Lake Charlevoix has to offer. Large bay windows throughout the home allow you to soak in the panoramic views, while 738 feet of lake frontage means you can enjoy your own piece of the shoreline.

Minnesota

2825 Little Orchard Way, Wayzata, MN
For sale: $11.9 million

minnesota

Practice your swing on the private 3-hole golf course on this property’s grounds, or take the elevator up to the owner’s suite wing of this 16,078-square-foot oasis.

Mississippi

845 E Scenic Dr, Pass Christian, MS
For sale: $6.999 million

mississippi

Experience the Gulf of Mexico from this beachfront estate, which boasts a library, 15 bedrooms, a grand dining room and two guest cottages.

Missouri

1700 S Warson Rd, Saint Louis, MO
For sale: $10.75 million

missouri

You’ll never need to leave this estate if you don’t want to. The property comes fully equipped with 30,000 square feet of living space, 16 fireplaces, a 5,000-bottle wine cellar, a bowling alley, a bar and more.

Montana

Montana’s Shelter Is, Rollins, MT
For sale: $29 million

montana

Located on one of the world’s cleanest lakes, this secluded 22-acre Montana Island estate leaves nothing to be desired. The great room welcomes you to the 21,964-square-foot home with 45-foot ceilings and Carrara marble floors that continue throughout the numerous living spaces.

Nebraska

30202 Ida St, Valley, NE
For sale: $2.5 million

nebraska

Situated on 75 acres of Nebraska prairie, this log home is an equestrian’s dream, thanks to its 14,000-square-foot riding arena, 3 outbuildings, and stables.

Nevada

550 Sierra Sunset Ln, Zephyr Cove-round Hill Village, NV
For sale: $59 million

nevada

Next time you visit Nevada, it won’t be for Las Vegas. Located on the popular Lake Tahoe, this property gets you beachfront access, a 12-bedroom main residence and a 15-stall horse barn.

New Hampshire

142 & 144 Hopewell Rd, Alton, NH
For sale: $19.8 million

new-hampshire

Spanning an expansive 63,029 square feet on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee, this home is impressive in size and stature. Its elegant fountains aren’t just outdoors, either – a fountain room exists inside the house, too.

New Jersey

84 Glen Alpin Rd, New Vernon, NJ
For sale: $45 million

This custom European-inspired estate rests on a private 15-acre lot surrounded by perennial gardens, sculptures, over 100 imported trees and resort-like landscaping. Indoors you’ll find high-end finishes in every room, geothermal radiant heat flooring, and a wine cellar made of brick and limestone.

New Mexico

117 Tesuque Rdg, Santa Fe, NM
For sale: $13.65 million

new-mexico

Nestled in the foothills of Santa Fe, this manor offers phenomenal views of the Sangre de Cristos from many of its rooms, which include a formal living room, a grand dining room, and a library.

New York

26 Pond Rd, Kings Point, NY
For sale: $85 million

new-york

Why own one home when you can own three? This estate delivers it all — 8 waterfront acres, panoramic views of New York City, 3 palatial homes with smart technology, and a private dock.

North Carolina

234 Skycliff Dr, Asheville, NC
For sale: $10.95 million

north-carolina

If the mountains are calling, answer them from this home: a European-inspired mansion with views of the Smokey Mountains, a picturesque balcony overlooking the hills, and barrel-beamed ceilings.

North Dakota

322 Sunset Bay Rd, Bottineau, ND
For sale: $2.75 million

north-dakota

This custom-built home on the shores of Lake Metigoshe is designed for water views with floor-to-ceiling windows, an upper level balcony, and an open floor plan throughout.

Ohio

370 Twp Rd # 129, Zanesfield, OH
For sale: $10 million

ohio

Not only can you own this tranquil home on 345 acres of land, but it actually comes with its own private 50-acre lake. The backyard pool party will take on a whole new meaning.

Oklahoma

3101 Hardy Springs Rd, Mcalester, OK
For sale: $6 million

This mid-century modern abode comes with 4,789 square feet of indoor living space and 32.62 acres of land.

Oregon

16400 Jordan Rd, Sisters, OR
For sale: $24 million

oregon

The natural beauty of Oregon is visible from all angles of this woodsy 14,666-square-foot estate. When you’re not looking out the endless bays of windows, it’ll be hard to pull your eyes away from the cavernous stone fireplace that takes up nearly the entire length of the living room wall and expands up toward the vaulted ceilings.

Pennsylvania

100 Maplehill Rd, Gladwyne, PA
For sale: $25.9 million

pennsylvania

This classic East Coast home boasts a full stone exterior with limestone accents, private acreage and an impressive indoor pool with a self-closing seamless glass door.

Rhode Island

16 Yosemite Valley Rd, Westerly, RI
For sale: $19.995 million

Located in Watch Hill, one of the best preserved coastal areas in the country, this estate is situated on a panoramic view point atop nearly 4 acres of land. The home boasts an impressive 100-foot-by-24-foot glass-encased veranda, 12-foot ceilings and a grand walnut staircase leading to the second story.

South Carolina

133 Flyway Dr, Johns Island, SC 29455
For sale: $22 million

south-carolina

This Johns Island home has been touched by many architects and designers over the years, resulting in a varied, but perfectly melded, design. The interiors will remind you of Cape Cod beach homes, while the backyard could lead to a Malibu beach without being out of place. Put them together, and you’ve got a perfect beach house.

South Dakota

968 Wynstone Dr, Jefferson, SD
For sale: $4.65 million

south-dakota

Own a piece of Missouri River frontage with this stunning 3.35-acre property in South Dakota. The careful craftsmanship is apparent in the hand-forged iron work, the custom on-site finished cabinetry, and the intricate tile and stone work.

Tennessee

615 River Rd, Kingston, TN
For sale: $15.5 million

tennessee

High on a hilltop, this 94-acre private estate offers spectacular river views, 2 wraparound verandas and 3 fireplaces.

Texas

10000 Hollow Way Rd, Dallas, TX
For sale: $48.9 million

Known as Walnut Place, this 28,996-square-foot mansion sits just 8 minutes outside of downtown Dallas on a sprawling 25 acres. The property comes with a main residence, a recreational center, and multiple guest houses.

Utah

Undisclosed Address
For sale: $25 million

utah

The mountain and lake views from this Utah home – built from a unique combination of Italian stone, concrete, steel and glass – are unsurpassed. With 7,996 square feet of space and a grand terrace outdoor area, you’ll want to entertain every weekend so your friends can catch some breathtaking sunsets as well.

Vermont

506 N Hill Rd, Stowe, VT
For sale: $12.5 million

vermont

This secluded Vermont home comes with a miniature golf course, a shooting range, an orchard and its own zipline – which hangs over one of the two private ponds.

Virginia

205 Silver Tee Dr, Penhook, VA
For sale: $25 million

virginia

You can choose to take a dip in the backyard pool, the hot tub, or the lake that’s merely yards away from this custom-built Virginia home. Afterwards, you can screen a flick in the home theater, or grab a meal at the nearby country club.

Washington

12011 SW 220th St, Vashon, WA
For sale: $28 million

washington

This Pacific Northwest estate is a horticulturist dream, with over 3,000 planted trees and nearly that many types of flowers and shrubs located right on the grounds – carefully curated from all over the world by the previous owners. Also accompanying the 6,500-square-foot main residence is a private driving, chipping and putting area.

West Virginia

230 Quarry Rdg E, Charleston, WV
For sale: $13 million

west-virginia

If you’ve ever wanted to live in a mountaintop community, this 19,000-square-foot house presents just the opportunity to join one. While you might be a little farther from the city, you can entertain friends in the backyard with a pool party or a quick game of tennis on your private court.

Wisconsin

W3245 Snake Rd, Lake Geneva, WI
For sale: $14.5 milionwisconsinThis former Wrigley Estate, known as Hillcroft, stands along 415 feet of frontage on the coveted shores of Lake Geneva. Not only does this home carry a famous history, it also boasts park-like grounds and an 11,000-square-foot main residence.

Wyoming

640 Clearwater Ln, Thayne, WY
For sale: $33.9 million

wyoming

Known as the Cakebread Ranch, this stunning home is accompanied by 4.5 miles of private waters on the Salt River, a late 1700s walk-in fireplace, and hand-tooled hickory flooring.

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Originally published November 22, 2016; updated February 20, 2017.

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Conversion Rate Optimization Tips for Checkout Pages

For most of us, the checkout process of a website means nothing more than just something we need to go through in order to buy something online. For eCommerce experts, however, the checkout process (and more importantly, the conversion rate drops) are nightmares that keep them up at night.

Improving the conversion rate with a minimal 1% can actually turn out to be a huge increase in income at the end of the month.

Optimizing conversion rates is a job of its own. It is very unlikely for a web designer to be an expert at it, considering marketing professionals spend years learning to improve them and many of them still don’t get there in time before the web trends change.

I will be honest with you right from the start: there is a lot of hard work behind learning how to work in this area and getting good at it. The good part is that there are not many web designers out there who are. If you get good at it, you will have a huge advantage over your competition.

Limit the Clicks

Cutting the checkout process to a limited amount of clicks can’t do anything else than increase the conversion rate. It is common sense that users, whenever they hold their credit card in their hands, are very sensible. The smallest detail can make them put the card back in their wallet and leave. If there is something you take from today’s article, it’s this:

If you want users to buy, you have to make it easy.

Now repeat this in your head a couple of times – if you want your users to buy, you have to make it easy.

There have been multiple studies (like this one or this one) showing that single page checkouts have higher conversion rates. You might argue that the “single vs. multiple-page” debate is counterproductive unless you know your audience.

I would disagree. Regardless of who your audience is, no one would rather have to go through a more complicated checkout process. No one. If you limit the amount of clicks and make it easy, you are better than many of the competitors out there.

Choosing a single-page funnel is without any doubt best and there is no better way to prove this than looking at the A/B tests that were done previously.

Checkout on Dribbble

Simple check-out process on Dribbble

Don’t Ask Me to Sign Up

You found a nice product within a decent price range. You research it online and get ready to buy it. You go to their website and add it to cart. You click on “buy”. And then they ask you to create an account if you want to buy the product.

But I don’t want to create an account only for the sake of being in your database and you having access to my mail. I just want the product. No upsale, no newsletters, no marketing targeting me. Just give me the damn product.

If you don’t want my money, there is no easier way to let me know than asking me to sign up in order to buy. This is one of the things that makes me cringe. Many years ago I was looking for a fitness tracker. There were not so many of them on the market as there are today.

When I finally found the right one (which was also one of the few and the only decent choice), I headed to their website to buy it. They asked me to sign up. I didn’t. Today, I’m using a product from their competitor.

You should always allow users to buy without signing up. If you really want them in your database for whatever reason, there are two options of doing it. The more aggressive is creating an account at every purchase with the email and a random password. When you send the order receipt per mail, send the account information as well. If the user opts in, that is his choice! You don’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to.

The second way of approaching it is asking users to create an account on the “thank you” page, after they purchase. Most of them won’t, but if you show them what the benefits are, some might. Tell them, for instance, that they can track their order if they create an account. That’s an added benefit. I would sign up (albeit with my “spam mail”) just to be able to track the package.

Another good reason for doing it after the purchase is that at that point in time you only need limited input from the user: the password. You already have everything else. If you ask them to sign up at the beginning, they will feel they have to give you a lot of information. But if you delay the signing up, it won’t feel the same, because users only need to type in a new password.

Regardless of how you do it, always give the user a choice. Don’t put him in the corner and ask him to create an account if he wants your product. You should be thankful he is willing to buy it in the first place. Don’t try to stop him. In the end, you might miss on a lot of money.

Free Shipping?

If your web shop offers free shipping, this is a biggie. “Free shipping” are probably the two words that brought most revenue to online sellers in the past decade.

For whatever reason, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10 – David Bell

Statistics show most people leave products in a cart without buying them because shipping and handling costs are too high. A well-known study from UPS shows that a whopping 44% of the users who didn’t finish a purchase chose not to do it because of these costs. Just imagine being able to sell to so many more people, your income would go through the roof.

If you offer free shipping, make sure to highlight it during the checkout process and during the final confirmation (if you choose to have one). If you don’t offer free shipping, you might want to A/B test it for a couple of weeks to see how much your income grows.

Free returns and secure payments are also two elements you could emphasize during the checkout process. While many people already know how to look for a secure connection, some still don’t. They will always be afraid that someone will steal their precious credit card details, so making it obvious to them that this is not likely to happen can only help you and your conversion rate.

Nail the Forms

As I recently wrote in my latest article, unless you create amazing forms that improve the experience of the users, you won’t have much success with checkout processes.

Conversion funnels rely heavily on input from the users. Frustration, which is a thing I often find myself feeling when having to fill in a form, is not something you want your users to feel when they sit with their credit card and are ready to purchase.

Web form with labels

Forms are an important part of the check-out process

You should take a look at the whole article, but for the sake of making it easier for you, I will summarize here what is important when you try to improve your forms.

Ask only for the information you need. In Europe it is actually illegal to ask for more information from the users just for the sake of having it. If you don’t use this information for purchase-related operations, not only it might bring you legal issues, but it will also annoy your users.

Fine-tuning your labels and sticking to a single-column layout are two other tips that I speak about in the article. They are also really important for increasing the speed of completion.

You need to optimize your forms for mobile, no doubt about it. Keep in mind that a lot of purchases are made from portable devices and unless you create responsive forms, you will not be able to sell to as many mobile users as you could.

Have I added the product to the cart?

Noticeable microinteractions can make or break your eCommerce website. For instance, always let a user know he added a product to the cart. You would be surprised to learn how few websites are good at this.

Don’t get me wrong, most of them try to let the user know, but it doesn’t always work as well as it should. It should be as obvious as it can get that they’ve added something to the cart.

When a user adds a product to the cart, she should be able to quickly move on to the checkout page, but you shouldn’t force her to. If she wants to continue shopping, let her do it. This should be the default setting, but always keep the “checkout” page at a click’s distance.

Add to Cart confirmation

On this webshop you are not in doubt about what you’ve added to your cart or about how to purchase.

Persistent cart

If a user added something to the cart but never got herself to buy it, you would really be stupid if you let the cart expire or clear itself on refresh. Studies show that if you persist and retarget them with ads, users will come back and pick up where they left off. Moreover, they might even be happy that you remembered their cart. The reasons behind them leaving can be different.

Some might not be sure about the price, while others might have been caught in the middle of a busy day and simply forgot to checkout. You can never know. Trying to persuade the user to finish the payment process can’t do much damage, but it can increase your conversion rates a lot.

Ask for Credit Card Information Last

Another small trick you can use during the checkout process is asking for the credit card information last – after the name and the address. This might not make too much sense, but Cialdini’s principles of persuasion show that users feel they need to finish something they started. Some users might be reluctant to put their credit card information first, but if you ask for their name and address and they give them to you, you might get closer to a sell.

Plasso landing page

Plasso asks for the name and e-mail first and only afterwards for the credit card info.

Testimonials

Conversion rates are not only about design though. Sometimes other small details can increase them by a large margin. One of these details are the testimonials, which are very useful and powerful for when users are not sure if they want to buy a specific product.

Testimonials always have the power of convincing a user that a product is worth paying for. You need to employ this carefully, though. Just as positive testimonials can increase the conversion rates, negative testimonials can also decrease them.

Great Search Functionality

If you want to make it easy for your users, as I mentioned before, you can at least implement a decent search function. This is often a pain point for users. They often search for products and are not able to find what they are looking for because the search function is poorly implemented.

A good idea for the ones who still don’t get it is to show users what they search for. Many search engines show related products instead of the ones that users search for and this is annoying and a waste of time.

Windup

eCommerce is about much more than having a good set of products to sell. Users are so complex that it is impossible to sell to all of them, but there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to improve your conversion rate – sometimes by a lot. Today we took a look at the most valuable tips and tricks for eCommerce checkout processes.

If you follow these best practices you should be on your way to improving your conversion rates by some percents. It might not sound a lot in the beginning, but remember that even a single percent can mean a lot in income if you have a large webshop.

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You Could Own the Fannings' Childhood Home for $2.85M

Photo: ShutterStock

The gated estate where actress sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning grew up in Studio City, CA just hit the market for $2.85 million.

Its nearly 3,600 square feet include 5 bedrooms and 4 baths, plus a double-story great room with a limestone fireplace and a view onto a terraced backyard with a lagoon pool and spa.

The 1953 French Traditional home boasts mature oak trees and expansive views of the Hollywood Hills, according to the listing by Leland Walters of Leland Properties.

Photos courtesy of Leland Properties

The chef’s kitchen is outfitted for Hollywood-style parties, with white marble countertops, a large center island and stainless appliances. A breakfast nook oversees the lushly landscaped property.

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10 Resources for Finding Beautiful Cinemagraphs on the Web

The latest trend in animated GIFs is the looping seamless image called a cinemagraph.

This idea first appeared in 2011 and has since grown massively with thousands of examples online.

1. /r/Cinemagraphs

reddit cinemagraphs

Reddit curates millions of new links every day and the /r/Cinemagraphs subreddit is one of the most populated communities on the site. Cinemagraph creators often submit their original work and the quality is superb.

As of writing this post, the /r/Cinemagraphs community has ~140k subscribers and it’s growing every day. You can search through hundreds of thousands of older posts to find tons of amazing cinemagraphs across dozens of categories.

2. Cinemagraphs.com

cinemagraphs.com

The creators of cinemagraphs launched their own website Cinemagraphs.com. It’s the one-stop source for everything cinemagraph related with plenty of examples to sift through.

Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck first invented cinemagraphs in 2011 and now include this in their professional photography/videography services. To learn more visit the about page and skim through their site archives.

3. Instagram

instagram hashtags

Instagram was popularized as a mobile app but it’s not just for your phone. You can search the #cinemagraph hashtag to find thousands of photos shared by photographers and cinemagraph fans.

This term is still relatively new but it’s gaining traction rapidly with about 62,000 photos and counting. So if you’re ever looking for video cinemagraphs check this tag frequently for new material.

4. Flixel

flixel cinemagraphs

The Flixel program lets you create cinemagraphs with one easy editor for Mac. But their site also has a gallery of cinemagraphs submitted by creators and users.

You can search by category or by recency and this gallery is absolutely monstrous. I highly recommend browsing through their site to find quality examples from talented designers.

5. Giphy

giphy cinemagraphs

The GIF search engine Giphy seems like an obvious resource for great cinemagraphs. Doing a quick search reveals about 9,500+ results for cinemagraphs on their site.

Definitely smaller than other galleries but certainly worth a peek. And every cinemagraph on Giphy is guaranteed to use the GIF file format rather than a motion file like some websites.

6. Pinterest

pinterest cinemagraph

The visual network Pinterest offers a great experience for finding popular infographics. All posts are sorted by shares so it’s a bit tougher finding new material.

But you can also sort through boards to find cinemagraph-specific posters and follow those updates. Pinterest can be confusing at first but once you learn the interface you’ll see why it’s such a beloved site with a growing audience of users.

7. Behance

behance cinemagraphs

All designers should know about Behance since it’s the best free portfolio site online. It’s full of creative work and you can sort by keywords like “cinemagraph” to filter specific content.

I’ve found some incredible cinemagraphs on this site made by professional designers and design teams. There’s a good mix of professional work along with amatuer cinemagraphs made for fun. But they all look incredible and Behance’s gallery adds new posts every day.

8. Flickr

flickr cinemagraph

Flickr’s updated search feature makes it much harder to find working cinemagraphs. But they are there, you just have to dig through results to find them.

Since Flickr auto-resizes all images you won’t notice the animations right away. Instead you’ll need to click the small arrow icon in the bottom-right corner of the photo page and click “view all sizes”. The fullsize image should be the original GIF in all its looping cinemagraphic glory.

9. Facebook Groups

facebook cinemagraph groups

If you’re a Facebook lover you can try searching for groups related to cinemagraphs. They don’t seem to be as popular compared to Pinterest groups, although there are specific groups dedicated to cinemagraphs.

Most of the posts on Facebook seem to be repeats from other sources but you can find unique cinemagraphs made by professionals too.

10. Tumblr

tumblr cinemagraphs

Tumblr is easily one of the most populated resources for finding cinemagraphs. You can search for generic cinemagraphs or filter by keywords and see everything live right on the page.

Since Tumblr is an image-heavy network it embeds all GIFs right into the search results. So you can sample cinemagraphs from a distance with a seemingly endless supply to pick through.

Wrapping Up

Cinemagraphs are here to stay and they’ve exploded worldwide into an extremely popular trend. Whether you’re looking to create your own from scratch or just want to find some cool examples, I guarantee these resources can help you in your quest.

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Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Fix Up Your Home Like a Flipper

If you’re anything like me, you may find that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of flipping houses. I’ll admit – buying an old house, fixing it up, and flipping it for a profit is pretty exciting. But if you get too distracted by flipping houses, it’s easy to let your own home fall by the wayside.

While profitable remodeling projects can be more tempting to work on, you can still benefit from tackling projects in your own home. Remodeling your home will not only up its value, but also improve the way you feel about it. After all, who wouldn’t love to cook in a newly remodeled kitchen?

Here are five easy, inexpensive projects that will really make a difference in how you feel about your home.

Add a new coat of paint

Whether you decide to paint your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom (or all three!), a coat of paint can instantly transform the look and feel of a room. The best part about painting your own home is that you don’t have to stick to neutrals, because you aren’t trying to attract any buyers.

If you’ve been dying to paint your kitchen red or your bathroom blue, then do it! This is your chance to paint your home the colors that make you happy.

Refresh your kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a home, so it should be one of the first rooms you remodel. And unless you moved into a brand-new home where you were able to design your kitchen from scratch, chances are there are a few things you’ve been eager to change.

If you’re lucky enough to have nice wood cabinets, don’t worry about replacing them. A splash of paint and some new hardware can work wonders and make your kitchen look brand new, without having to spend hundreds on new cabinets.

The same goes for laminate or wood countertops. There are plenty of DIY kits you can buy to transform your countertops for a fraction of the cost.

A new backsplash is also an inexpensive way to add some life to your kitchen – plus it’s a cinch to install.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Install new doorknobs, faucets, and light fixtures

While they are probably the easiest feature to overlook, new doorknobs and fixtures can make a huge difference in a room. Depending on the type of doorknobs you purchase, and considering that most homes have quite a few knobs, the price can add up pretty quickly.

If you don’t have the time or money to replace all your doorknobs at once, work on replacing just a couple every month, starting with the most obvious ones.

Faucets can get pretty expensive as well, especially if you want to replace them in both your kitchen and bathroom(s). If you want to save some money, I recommend searching online or heading to the clearance section of your local home improvement store.

If you’re lucky, you can find great deals on some beautiful faucets. Replacing all your faucets at once might not be feasible, so don’t be afraid to take your time with this project. Before you know it, you’ll be able to enjoy the luxury of attractive faucets in all your rooms.

As for light fixtures, you may already have fixtures that you like, but they just need a color update. Instead of buying new fixtures, grab a can of spray paint and go to town. It’s amazing what a difference a $3 can of spray paint can make!

Revive your bathroom

A coat of paint, wainscoting, and a fresh shower curtain and linens are all super easy ways to instantly transform your old and tired bathroom.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you could even replace the flooring or change up the vanity. Getting ready in the mornings will be that much more enjoyable if you can do so in a beautiful bathroom.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Boost your curb appeal

While it’s always satisfying to remodel the interior of your home, you don’t want to forget about the exterior. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple changes you can make to really boost your home’s curb appeal.

If you can’t afford to replace the front door, try painting it instead. A new porch light fixture, house numbers, and a mailbox can also make a huge difference for your home’s exterior.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop coming up with excuses. Go fix up those kitchen cabinets that you’ve hated since you moved in!

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